Immigration Department allocates additional HK$69.5 million to enhance identity card application processing capacity

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29th November 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s Immigration Department has secured an additional allocation of HK$69.5 million from the Legislative Council to enhance its ability to process identity card applications. The funds will be used to improve the efficiency of identity card application processing at the Immigration Department and support the operations of a newly established temporary personnel registration office in Kwun Tong.

According to documents submitted by the Immigration Department to the Legislative Council’s Security Affairs Committee, there has been a significant increase in demand for the replacement of new smart identity cards and other identity card services since the resumption of travel. This surge in demand can be attributed to the gradual return of a large number of Hong Kong residents from abroad, resulting in a backlog of delayed applications due to the impact of the pandemic. Additionally, various measures aimed at attracting talent and labour have led to an increase in first-time identity card applications, putting strain on the available appointment slots.

In relation to the Territory-wide Identity Card Replacement Exercise, approximately 520,000 applications for overdue card replacement have been recorded. From March 6 to October 31 of this year, the Immigration Department has processed approximately 160,000 applications for overdue card replacement, leaving an estimated 360,000 applications still pending for the coming year.

The government’s introduction of a series of talent-related initiatives, including the Talent List, has also contributed to an increase in the number of cases requiring identity card applications. Furthermore, the 2023 Policy Address announced the implementation of the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme in 2024, which is expected to further drive the demand for identity card applications in the upcoming year. It is projected that an additional 120,000 and 200,000 identity card applications will need to be processed in 2023 and 2024, respectively, in relation to these initiatives.

Authorities forecast that the total number of identity card applications in 2023 and 2024 will reach approximately 1.11 million and 1.15 million, representing an 86% and 92% increase, respectively, compared to the pre-pandemic annual average of around 600,000 applications.

As for the newly established temporary personnel registration office in Kwun Tong, it is expected to incur monthly expenses of approximately HK$7.09 million and have the capacity to process an additional 1,100 applications per day, amounting to approximately 320,000 additional applications per year.

Due to the significant surge in demand for identity card services, surpassing the original budget for the fiscal year 2023-24, the Immigration Department has applied to the Finance Committee for an additional allocation of HK$69.5 million to cover the related expenses.